Spring is here, which means summer is just around the corner (yay!), which also means we will start shedding those cold weather layers from our outfits, and we will begin showing more skin. Not sure about all of you, but this time of year, I really start craving some color on my skin. I know it is not so healthy to lay out in the sun and bake all day (and also not really an option when it’s still only in the 50’s in Chicago), so finding an alternative to this is huge. And I found it! The Dancing with the Stars self tanner by Norvell. I have loved DWTS from day one, and have always envied the glow the guys and gals radiate, so I was thrilled to be offered the same glow for myself (thanks Norvell and Emma!). I’ve tried it, and it truly works. Gives a natural color, with no orange tint, and makes you look like you just stepped in from a day in the sun. (I’ll share more of my results next week.) In the meantime, in addition to getting to try out this prduct, I also got to interview their DWTS partner, pro dancer, Emma Slater. She is bubbly and so fun to watch on the show, of course always looking beautiful (and glowing!), and has been a favorite of mine in many seasons, especially this one. Read on to see what Emma has to say about DWTS, this great self tanner, and well, just life in general!
SM: First of all, congratulations on your engagement! You and Sasha look so great together. How is it working (on DWTS) with your fiance? I can imagine there can be pros and cons? Any tips for other ladies out there in the same boat?
ES: It’s really a blessing to work with your fiance. We feel like we are on the same team, both fortunate enough to share the same passion and work with the same wonderful people on the best TV show. We have so much to talk about when we get home! And we are always there to help each other out. I’ll ask him his opinion on some of the male dance steps that I teach my celebrity partner (Rashad Jennings), and I’ll do the same for him for the girls steps if he asks for my help. Just constantly having that support and unconditional understanding and love is magnificent, and even though we’ve not known any other way, we are both aware that it’s extremely rare and we are lucky to be in that situation. As for getting bored of him, if you met him you’d know I could never have a boring life with him around! We are both goof balls at heart and enjoy the humorous side of life!
My tips for other couples working together is to be selfless and not make every conversation about you and your work. It should be a common interest and there’s always a line where work ends and home life begins and that takes precedence when you are at home. Then it’s just about you two, doing what you love together and focusing on that. Don’t bring any stressful work related conflicts home with you.
SM: Also, congrats on such an exciting start to this season of DWTS. You and Rashad are a great team to watch. From what I see as a viewer, it looks like you have always been a great teacher for your past partners. (I loved watching you and Bill together. Such a sweet partnership.) They have differed a lot from Rashad though, and I am curious, how is this season different for you?
ES: This season is so different for me. I find myself exploring a much bigger spectrum of dance steps, ones that require a lot of body movement because that is one of Rashads strengths. I treat him exactly as I would an actual dance partner that I’m training up to compete with. I’ve ADORED every partner I’ve been partnered with and consider myself lucky with the dashing men of my DWTS career! But generally with a lot of my other partners, the main focus was always to retain the footwork and steps in their memory so they feel like they knew the dance fully. With Rashad, he picks up information and is able to retain it very quickly. On top of that, his natural ease for movement makes him able to make certain steps look easier than they are. So with that in mind, if I choreograph a certain step that isn’t sitting in his body right and he struggles to get it I know it’s not worth it and I’ll change it. Having a partner that can deal with change is a luxury! I love being a stricter teacher with Rashad because although I’m very bubbly and naturally quite positive and I guess soft, I’m actually a very disciplined teacher and I really don’t let much slide. I like being a perfectionist and working with another perfectionist like Rashad is extremely liberating. We definitely share the same strong drive.
I actually can easily compare this season to my first season ever because it feels like a completely different experience. I’m able to really choreograph more creative dances and work a lot on substance. Choreography I haven’t been able to do yet on the show. So it’s a lot like my first season with Bill Engvall which is the best feeling because that season will ALWAYS hold a special place to me.
SM: On another note, I am super excited to try out the self tanner, and hopefully get a glow like yours. I imagine the amount of dancing you do during the season keeps you in tip top shape, but do you have any recommendations for those of us in the “off season” on staying in shape and getting that “dancer’s body?” And does that tan make a world of difference? I know for me, having a glow always makes me more confident.
ES: Having a tan makes the WORLD of difference in dance! As a dancer who has performed for so many years now wearing tan, I never quite feel the same without it. You’re never dressed without a smile… Or a tan! And I don’t like to sunbathe to get color because I believe it’s just way too dangerous. We shouldn’t have to cook our bodies and risk skin cancer just to get a glow. That’s crazy to me. The Dancing with the Stars tan is so user friendly, it glides on without causing any streaks or grabbing. With the Vio-7 complex too (an anti-orange formula) you’ll never look like a tangerine! Highly important.
In terms of keeping fit during on off season, I love to walk everywhere. It doesn’t even have to feel like a workout at all. Just leaving your car and waking or even cycling connects you better to nature, puts you in an elevated mood and does wonders for your body. I eat quite healthy too, not eating too much past 8pm will make a huge difference on your weight line as our bodies can’t digest massive amounts of food too well whilst sleep as we don’t expend much energy.
SM: Do you have a favorite number you have performed on the show? Whether it be the costumes, the song, the dance…what has made it your favorite?
ES: My favorite dance so far was actually earlier this season, on April 10th, during the “Most Memorable Year” night! Rashad and I danced a contemporary that on DWTS. We dedicated the dance to Rashads relationship with his father which is both beautiful and unique, and that’s the type of dance I’ve tried to choreograph for him. I love dancing it and was so excited to perform it.
ES: I am big on travel. I never turn down an opportunity to travel, it’s a massive passion, even a belief of mine, that I must see the world before I leave it. I’m determined to get to Thailand and Costa Rica.
So far, the most memorable place to me has been Italy and Spain. South Spain can be very similar to Italy in the Les touristy places. And Italy is just heaven on earth. I have traveled there both for dance and for a holiday. Venice is breathtaking, perfect for culture, architecture and walking around a truly mind blowing place. So romantic and artistic. There is nothing else like it. I want to go to the Amalfi Coast and drive through Tuscany which I’ve never had the pleasure of going. I dream of going for mine & Sasha’s Honeymoon. I stayed a little village town near Bolongia for a dance competition once but stayed a couple of extra days to enjoy it. Just wow. I made so many local friends, I still remember Gino’s cafe where we would spend our warm summer nights under the colorful parasols and string tree lights just on the side of the quaint Main Street of the town. The hotels were all locally owned bed and breakfast places that had such a friendly casual atmosphere. Everyone was relaxed and welcoming.